Black holes are climate change activists

Democracy and climate change

Some political commentators worry: climate protection is important, they write, but talking only about carbon dioxide is stubborn and ignorant. The commentators were surprised at how popular the topic has become within a few months, although little has recently changed in the facts. This sudden change of heart has nothing to do with rational arguments, they argue, rather they see excessive emotionality in it - anger and remorse. In this way we would narrow our room for maneuver instead of talking sensibly about the options in climate protection. And we would forget about the other problems that we also have. In short: we supposedly ride our way deeper into the dirt.

I would like to give three examples for this line of argument:

  • Matthias Heitmann criticizes the emergency rhetoric of many cities and municipalities on the website of the magazine »Cicero«: »We are experiencing a popularization of the state of emergency - and at the same time its normalization,« writes Heitmann. Climate change alone is apparently no longer enough to create the necessary panic. With the panic the rational thinking should be stopped. Panic leads in the wrong direction: "The radicalization of the climate debate provides the hesitant political elite of the western world with a welcome starting point to prevent people from shaping the world differently."
  • Rainer Hank from the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” even sees religious traits in the recently flared up activism, because it is about penance and purification: “The line of flight of the new climatic asceticism [is] a world in which joy, progress and prosperity hardly exist anymore Have space. "Many are even ready to" accept the impoverishment of humanity "if that can stop climate change, warns Hank. He is shocked that the option of getting the climate crisis under control is being discredited today as a diversionary maneuver.
  • And Jan Fleischhauer accuses the activists on »Focus Online« of ultimately working towards abolishing democracy - even if they do not want to admit it. If one is convinced that the climate catastrophe is imminent, argues Fleischhauer, then one can no longer hope for the governments of the world. "Parliamentarism is simply too slow to turn around."

The political commentators receive support from academia in their analysis. The historian Christian Geulen from the University of Koblenz-Landau draws parallels between the climate crisis of the left and the refugee crisis of the right on the portal »History of the Present«: The rhetoric is similar. »What threatens is the actual demise of one's own - one's own life, one's own planet, one's own homeland, one's own people, one's own values, one's own culture. And that is precisely what requires radical action, ”writes Geulen about both crisis discourses. Anyone who argues in this way no longer sees governments as legitimate and effective problem-solvers. Through the social media and online comments, the tenor is now: »It's about us! We are threatened and only we can avert danger; not the state, not its institutions and certainly not the politicians - only we, who now finally have to be 'heard'. "

Wrong analogy

If I am to sum up my own thinking about climate change, it looks like this: We should bring emissions to practically zero in the next 30 years. This makes it unnecessary to consider in which sectors one should more or less reduce, because in the end all CO2-producing activities are turned off. With this demand, I really do not give politicians much leeway and put them under considerable pressure. I myself do not believe that we will fully achieve this goal. But does my demand already contain the germ of overthrow and ecological dictatorship? I understand that some commentators see a danger in this, but there is another way - the democratic one.

My reply begins by exposing a false analogy: if we put everything in the primacy of CO2- Subordinate reduction, then that is not comparable to the reduction of sulfur dioxide or the reduction of CFCs from the 20th century. Because acid rain and the ozone hole were comparatively simple problems: they could be solved with alternative refrigerants and desulphurisation systems. The production of greenhouse gases, on the other hand, is deeply anchored in our economy and way of life; We cannot simply filter or replace carbon dioxide.

The requirement for a CO2-Reduction quickly leads to really complicated problems that we can only solve in dialogue. The social compensation for the loss of lignite is one example, the recently sluggish expansion of wind energy in Germany is another. And the UN climate summit must clarify how to help developing countries with climate protection without patronizing them or keeping their people in poverty. I therefore believe that right now we need democracy more than ever to halfway through the climate crisis.